Stock markets mixed in Asia; Europe up in early trading

BEIJING — Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after Wall Street rose on a stronger estimate of U.S. economic growth and Chinese factory activity improved.

KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Germany’s DAX rose 0.6 per cent to 12,075.51 and London’s FTSE 100 added 0.5 per cent to 7,401.66. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.4 per cent to 5,077.40. On Wednesday, the DAX and the CAC 40 both rose 0.5 per cent while the FTSE 100 added 0.4 per cent. On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.2 per cent.

ASIA’S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 3,360.81 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 per cent to 19,646.24. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 per cent to 27,970.30 and Seoul’s Kospi lost 0.4 per cent to 2,363.19. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.8 per cent to 5,714.50 and India’s Sensex was unchanged at 31,644.30. Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore rose while Bangkok and Jakarta retreated.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks climbed as investors cheered a report of stronger economic growth. Investor concerns about tensions between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to ease and stocks moved higher as the day progressed. Along with technology companies and consumer-focused firms, health care companies and banks finished higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 0.5 per cent to 2,457.59. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 0.1 per cent to 21,892.43. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.1 per cent to 6,368.31 as technology companies rose for a third day in a row.

U.S. UPGRADE: The Commerce Department raised its estimate for second-quarter economic growth to 3 per cent from 2.6 per cent, the fastest pace in two years. The estimate is much better than the first quarter, when growth was 1.2 per cent. Meanwhile, private businesses added 237,000 jobs in August with broad gains across several industries including construction, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality, according to a survey by payroll processor ADP.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Market sentiment was given a lift by an upward revision to 2Q17 U.S. GDP growth driven by consumer spending,” Rob Carnell of ING said in a report. He also pointed to a rise in August employment numbers and an upward revision in July data. “Although economic data are positive for markets, politics, both domestic and international, continues to cast an ugly cloud,” Carnell said. He cited the Trump administration’s threat to shut the government and its stance toward North Korea. “But with a wall of money looking for somewhere to park, the economic news is likely to trump geopolitics for the moment unless the situation worsens.”

CHINA MANUFACTURING: An official gauge of Chinese factory activity improved for a 13th straight month in August. The preliminary version of the purchasing managers’ index from the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing and the National Bureau of Statistics rose to 51.7 from July’s 51.4 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. An index of new orders rose to 53.1 from July’s 52.8.

HARVEY’S IMPACT: Gasoline prices spiked to two-year highs and oil prices fell as the damage on the U.S. Gulf Coast became more apparent after Hurricane Harvey. The storm knocked out significant oil drilling and refining capacity, and on Tuesday, the largest U.S. oil refinery shut down and the operator of a major pipeline carrying fuel to the East Coast said it was running at a reduced rate. A record amount of rain left extensive flooding in Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, and the storm’s slow movement to the north and east was raising flood risks elsewhere in Texas and in other states.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $46.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 48 cents on Wednesday to close at $45.96. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 2 cents to $50.75 in London. It plunged 93 cents the previous session to $51.73.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 110.49 yen from Wednesday’s 110.24 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1887 from $1.1885.

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